Scratch That

The last week has not been a good one for me horse-speaking. Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to give you a sign? Maybe it’s just shit luck, but I ended up scratching Bear from the starter trial at Waredaca today due to a series of issues that cropped up this week.

It started last Sunday when he was being a bit spooky during our jumping warmup in the ring at a lesson. He jumped well but was spooking at external things- basically choosing that day to act like a 4-year-old. OK, fine.

We went out to school cross-country after warming up and he was especially silly, but focused when it came to the jumps. “A new side of Bear,” I thought.

We came around to jump a fence before the water and on the way to the turn, he spooked right and I went left, landing on the ground in the process. I think he was surprised, so he ran off and almost came when called, but decided to gallop back to the trailer, which was down a narrow gravel road probably half a mile away.

After trudging after him and getting some help from another of Lisa’s students who ponied him back towards us, I got back on and just worked a little on the hill. I was mad at myself for not having my leg enough in front of me, mad that Lisa was telling me the obvious and frustrated that my saddle has been slipping right on him and was clearly not working.

We finished the lesson with the decision that I needed a new saddle ASAP because we both thought my Albion was causing some kind of issue.

Fast forward to Wednesday when I had the saddle fitter come out to look at one I’d found at the Middleburg Tack Exchange and she took one look at my Albion and said, “Do not ride in this.” There had been a piece of metal popping out of the pommel area, but just barely. I’d hoped I could get it fixed while I’m gone for a couple of weeks in Italy, but apparently it was an important part of the head plate and was causing the tree to spread open and become wider every time we jumped or cantered. I never felt it, but I think he was and it added up–he’d been fidgety when tacking up and mounting and now seemed overly playful on cross-country up and down the hills. Sorry Bear!

I felt horrible. It also dawned on me quickly that we had no jump saddle for our eventing debut in a few days.

On Thursday I brought Bear out for my flat lesson and saw that his right hock was swollen and quite painful. It appeared he was kicked or knocked himself in some way because there was a light scrape.

Bear's hock on Thursday night.
Bear’s hock on Thursday night.

I went ahead and did a lesson with Oh So, who was quite good actually! But I was pretty discouraged at that point. We started him on Bute and Dex and I Furasone-wrapped it the next day. He never appeared very lame thankfully.

By yesterday, it had gone down significantly, but I decided to scratch because he could be bruised and I hadn’t ridden for a couple of days.

So, here I am today, totally bummed not only about losing $110 (hey, at least it’s not a recognized event I guess!) but also because there’s really not much in the way of quality starter horse trials until Loch Moy in September. I was looking forward to Bear’s eventing debut, even if it was 2’3/Elementary. I want to see what he’s made of! And I’m itching to get back out there myself considering it’s been almost a year since Oh So’s last event.

September feels like it’s so far away. I know there’s plenty of combined tests and dressage shows to do and maybe if he’s ready, we’ll come out recognized beginner novice in the fall, but it would be nice to have a low-key event first.

So the plan now is to find a saddle that fits first and foremost, then I’m hoping he’ll feel better by this coming weekend to do a jump lesson. Lisa wants me to do some of the recognized event schooling days like Maryland Horse Trials in July, but that requires taking a day off of work, so I’ll have to plan accordingly.

That's one happy horse!
That’s one happy horse!

So, with nothing to do today, I decided to take Oh So out for some hill work at Wingreen. This was his second time off property since his injury and he acted like he hadn’t missed a day! There were two large groups schooling, which I was worried might rile him up, and he was definitely strong, but not acting silly.

We must have looked pretty crazy in our cross-country boots, dressage saddle (now that I don’t have a jumping one!) and martingale (so I don’t get my nose broken), but we worked up and down the hills in trot and did a little canter before splashing through the water at the end.

So now I’ve got two weeks before I head off to Italy for vacation and I’m hoping I can regroup, find a saddle and figure out a schedule for summer combined tests!


2 thoughts on “Scratch That

  1. Oh So’s trot is “oh so” beautiful in that first shot! Wow!
    Sorry about scratching, but I am glad you found the source of the problem. Too bad saddles are so expensive.
    How long do you get to be in Italy? That sounds amazing!

    1. Thanks Shelby! It takes a lot of effort to get that trot in the dressage ring, but I know he has it. I will be in Italy for a 10-day trip, going around the most of the major cities. It should be fun!

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